Analysis of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim's Views

Topic: SocietyHistory
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Last updated: May 25, 2019

The sociological views of the three founding fathers; Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Emile Durkheim all assert that various aspects of our lifestyle are fully a product of the society in which we live. Each theorist views the impact of society and its manifestation of our identity in a different way.

All three of these men used the Industrial Revolution and capitalism to shape their theories of social identity, especially the identity created by capitalism’s division of labor; the owners of the means of production; the bourgeoisie and the oppressed proletariat.The Industrial Revolution was a major turning point in the recent history of the world. This shaped the “theological” point of view and underpinned this social and economic paradigm shift toward “mechanical” rather than “organic” solidarity among individuals.

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This analysis will provide a comparison and contrast of the positions of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. Marx saw the basic division in society as existing between owners and non-owners of the means of production.Marxist sociology and economic theory posited the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Karl Marx embraced the change from agrarian to the industrial revolution for the reason that the industrial revolution gave the lower class civilians a chance to engage and benefit the opportunities that existed in the industrial revolution and that were once so considered impossible for them.

Although this was a great change, there lies one problem, the workers or proletariat were oppressed.Marx had a great existential theory that the capitalist society was in fact exploiting the proletariat, they were selling the ability to work that they consumed in exchange for monetary value but in contrast were not receiving fair wages; as in barely getting by for day to day living; to put it simply the proletariat were not receiving their share of the profits. Marx stated that the proletariat were simply servants to the means of production that the bourgeoisie owned.Marx theorized that the solution to the end the social structure of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was through Social Revolution as a Solution to Oppression of the Proletariat Class. This could only be accomplished through the Marxist agenda for change and the realization of the proletariat that they were being exploited, the underclass must unite for the common purpose and rise up and demand change. Only once this was accomplished can the underclass begin to change their way of life to an increase in the quality of life.The inequities between the laboring and capitalist classes in society spawned the concept of socialism where in turn the benevolent members of society would help reflect their knowledge onto the proletariat and thus the equilibrium would occur.

This soon inspired the Communist ideology where a classless society existed and everyone was working for the common good. Marx thought of Communism as a new form of social organization that majored in cooperation among society. The second father of the big debate would be Max Weber.Weber took a middle standpoint on the Capitalistic spectrum. Weber was influenced by a religious ideology; one of a protestant work ethic viewpoint; work hard in this life and be rewarded in Heaven. Weber greatly believed that by impressing God, an individual will succeed in life.

Although Weber was strongly influenced by the works of Karl Marx he was more interested in the existential reasoning as to why technology came to be, his conclusion was that work got complicated and that individuals needed a way to be more efficient in the means of production.In opposition; the industrial revolution proved to be efficient in the increase of production, according to Weber it was still not efficient; there was a lack of efficiency in the new system of production. Weber sought the solution to this abridgement was to analyze the organizations in society and how they work. Weber thought that by implementing a hierarchy of positions in an organization and every individual should specialize in a trade and therefore the organization would be efficient.Weber also thought that the notion of a beauocracy played an important role of stabilizing efficiency in society, the structural problems would be diminished but opposing this was the realization that a “perfect“ beaurocracy was only a theoretical goal. Weber believed that capitalism was an “iron cage“, where freedom existed within constraints also under the macro-structural. Although he referred to capitalism as a iron cage, Weber also stated that would always be a door open for human behaviour to go out and find their own way.

Weber noted that for one to understand what an individual has to endure, that individual must first experience “verstehen“ which that individual creates an empathic understanding of their point of view, this is also noted under micro-structural. The last founding father of sociology that contributed their knowledge to how we use it today, and added perspective was Emile Durkheim. Durkheim was a moralist who strongly believed in right and wrong concluded that the change from agrarian to industrial was that work got complicated and there lies within a complex division of labour.Durkheim believe that society was “sick“ and social order, and stability needed to be restored. Durkheim also argued that individual identity becomes eroded in a capitalist and elite-controlled society. When the capitalistic society emerged people were exposed to a state of “anomie“ where the people were not yet conformed to the norms of society. Durkheim stated that anomie was the reason that the social problems existed. Durkheim came to the conclusion of a solution; the complex division of labour that existed had to be eliminated and society must unite to work in cooperation.

This new morality of cooperation was defined as “organic solidarity“. Durkheim also stated that society was corrupt due to people`s behaviour and as Comte he believe that in positivism lies the solution. Durkheim was highly motivated on learning the general laws for governing human behaviour or social facts. The important social fact that Durkheim developed was Social Integration which is defined as how people interact in social relationships and community contacts. Social Integration states that people who have an increased level of social connection will reflect in an increased level of well-being.The level of social integration reflects on the level of suicide in individuals. Studying suicide, Durkheim used the notion of social integration to determine suicide rates.

Durkheim concluded that increased social integration resulted in decreased suicide and vice versa. Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber are all social critics, each identify key flaws inherent in the capitalist system that had begun to dominate modern industrial society in the 1800s. In the increasingly urban, industrializing world of the nineteenth century, the socio-political landscape in Europe was characterized by a deepening, widening class struggle.Whether revolutionary or reformist, these thinkers felt obliged to address this struggle and to consider the role that capitalism had played in bringing it about.

Ultimately, Marx, Durkheim and Weber each provide differing accounts regarding the ways in which the urban society of the 1800s was deficient, and what would be needed to fix it. Essentially, it is an underlying assumption about human nature and the nature of human society that affects each thinker’s analysis of capitalist society.


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